Who would loot the property of wildfire victims? It's a concern now

PATEROS, Wash. -- Victims of the state's largest wildfire say strangers are poking around their burned belongings and aren't leaving until neighbors chase them off.

"The place was being over-run with people," resident Mark Miller said Tuesday. "They would stop and go down there looking for things."

Miller said he was able to save five family's homes after the fire -- but he lost one house.

All that`s left here is twisted metal and debris.

But to a thief, it could be a gold mine.

"You don`t even get a chance to go through what`s salvageable," Miller said. "They`re trying to find it first.

Only one day after the massive fire destroyed acres of orchards, Miller says looters were searching high and low for a quick buck.

Now signs erected at the side of the road remind looters that they`re not welcome here.

And Miller says he`s not the only one dealing with unwelcome guests.

"A friend of mine up the valley, they fought fire all night. They`re sitting exhausted drinking water and a truck pulls up into their driveway. They turn on a flashlight and they speed off."

And Miller has a message for anyone trying to cash in on someone else`s misfortune.

"You're playing a dangerous game," he said.

The sheriff`s office is warning people to be on the lookout for strangers poking around areas like this. And if they appear to be suspicious, call 911.